Thursday, November 05, 2009

Ken Wilber Guest Blog - Lexi Neale: Introducing The AQAL Cube, Part 2: The AQAL Cube in Integral Practice

Good stuff - really liked part one, which you might want to read before tackling this piece, if you haven't already read it.

Notice that Ken has to qualify the model as not fully integral . . . just saying.
Guest Blog: Introducing The AQAL Cube. Part 2: The AQAL Cube in Integral Practice (by Lexi Neale)
November 04, 2009 16:35

A Note from Ken:

The following is one possible extension of the basic AQAL framework. Lexi presents it as the fundamental framework, whereas in my opinion it is but one of several possible extensions of the simpler, more fundamental framework, anchored in the present moment. But it won’t work as the fundamental framework because it puts too much stuff in to go all the way up, all the way down, and thus actually ends up leaving out important dimensions.

The reason these types of extensions are not fundamental is that 1st-, 2nd-, and 3rd-person are not fundamental—what is fundamental is just the inside and outside of the individual and collective—those are the four quadrants. At red altitude, we introduce 1st-person; at amber, 2nd-nd person; at orange, 3rd-person; at green, 4th person; at teal, 5th-person; at turquoise, 6th-person; and at indigo, 7th-person. Those types of things are missed by “cube” approaches, which make 1st-, 2nd-, and 3rd-person fundamental at every level. At each of those higher levels, what is actually present is simply a variation on the inside and outside of the individual and collective, reflexively applied. Making “1st- , 2nd-, and 3rd- person” actually fundamental misses all of this; nor, in fact, do “1st- , 2nd-, and 3rd- person” go all the way down—only the inside and outside of the individual and collective go all the way down. Moreover, in making 3rd-person fundamental, the cube doesn’t even cover past orange vertically. Anyway, as I said, the “cube” approaches are certain extensions of the fundamental AQAL framework that cover a fairly narrow range of the full spectrum of all AQAL dimensions.

I’ve worked on several of these types of extensions myself, but haven’t presented them because they are, in fact, derivative of the simpler and more fundamental present-moment AQAL framework as I have presented it. Still, it is an interesting and useful extension in some ways, so it is offered here. In my mind, of course, it is definitely not Wilber-6, just a thoughtful extension of Wilber-5.

-Ken Wilber

Introducing The AQAL Cube, Part 2: The AQAL Cube in Integral Practice
by Lexi Neale

Read Part 1 here.


In Part 1, the AQAL Cube was introduced in the cold, hard terms of Integral Theory, where it was presented as a fundamental model rather than as an extension of the AQAL Square; the Square being presented instead as a reduction of the Cube. Here in Part 2, the AQAL Cube is presented in the warmer, softer terms of practical application, where it has enjoyed a long cultural history as a fundamental model for various incarnations of Enlightenment Kosmology. Both the AQAL Square and AQAL Cube are Enlightenment Kosmologies in that they map the evolution of our awareness, through the process of Integral Life Practice, back to Ultra Violet / Clear Light. The AQAL Cube reveals an added dimension of Consciousness to this process.


In “Introducing The AQAL Cube”, posted on June 12th, I showed how languages of the world conform in presenting our most fundamental consciousness perspectives, as the personal pronouns, in three sets of eight through the 1st, 2nd and 3rd persons. Not three squares, but three cubes, where the additional dimension was provided in differentiating the possessive from the non-possessive personal pronouns.

Ken Wilber described his initial research into the AQAL model in amassing all known categories of data. He began to find himself surrounded by four piles of paper, as four essential categories, which became the Four Quadrants. But the data he had accumulated was, by its very nature, tangible, empirical and third person, which lent itself to the four possessive quadrants (below) of the Cube. The corresponding four intangible, subtle and non-possessive categories of identity (above) remained elusive.

In its conventional use, the AQAL Square deals with the evolving structural processes we call Life. I proposed that involution, or Consciousness getting involved in gross structures as an AQAL process, is inseparable from evolution, or Life getting evolved as an AQAL process. They are two sides of the same coin, where AQAL Consciousness manifests as AQAL Life. The Life Quadrants, as gross structures and processes, are subject to death and disintegration; whereas the Consciousness Quadrants, as subtle identities inhabiting those structures, are subject to continuity and perpetuity. I subsequently proposed that the AQAL Cube is kosmologically fundamental to model the dynamic between Life and Consciousness, because the AQAL Square is a reduction or non-differentiation of that dynamic. Furthermore, I proposed that each of the three persons, each as an octave of personal pronoun perspectives, shows how that dynamic between Life and Consciousness operates in real life. In Part 2, I propose how this dynamic, as the AQAL Cube, fulfils the prerequisites of an Enlightenment Kosmology as a time-tested framework for Integral Life (/Consciousness) Practice. This now begs the question, what is Consciousness?

The AQAL Witness

To introduce the dynamic between Life and Consciousness in first-person experience, we must first understand the nature of Consciousness. Con-Sciousness, or “knowing with”, assumes a synthesis between a Knower and a Means of Knowing. There is only the One Knower, a.k.a. the Supreme Witness, or undifferentiated Knowing. In the AQAL Square the Supreme Witness resides in the Ultra Violet/Clear Light of the Upper Left Quadrant. This is a cast-in-concrete aspect of Integral Theory, which hardly lends itself to allowing the One Knower to occupy not only All Quadrants, but also All Levels of All Quadrants. But in the first person AQAL Cube, as the eight first-person possessive and non-possessive pronouns, our Con-Sciousness is “Witnessing-With” eight simultaneous perspectives. In our evolution, those eight perspectives have also transcended/included through a number of levels: Through levels of “I” to “I Am”, through levels of “Me” to “All Of Me”, through levels of “Us” to “All Of Us”, through levels of “We” to “We All”.

Fig. 1. The First Person Cube as AQAL Witness

In other words, if it is true that the Witness is our true seat of Knowing awareness, and that without the Witness there would be no awareness, then it is true that the Witness, as well as being Supreme/Ultra Violet, is also AQAL throughout the entire Spectrum of mistaken identities we have assumed in our evolution that include, but are not limited to, the Witness-as-Id, Witness-as-Ego, Witness-as-Soul and Witness-as-God on the Intuitive “I” Quadrant. All these mistaken or assumed identities are inevitable in our evolution, because an identity State results when the individual Witness, on whatever Quadrant or Level, identifies with whatever corresponding Structure it inhabits. And then that Structure enters the conspiracy by interpreting itself according to the assumed identity. For example, the Ego-as-Knower identity (Intuitive “I”) assumes that the corresponding Structure (Empirical “I”) it inhabits is its Means-of-knowing. But the Soul-as-Knower identity shifts towards Enlightenment when it realizes it also is a mere Means-of-knowing, and that the Universal Consciousness is the One True Knower. Wilber has clearly alluded to an AQAL Witness many times; but the AQAL Square, as a reduction of the AQAL Cube, was never able to differentiate and model it.

The first-person Cube maps the individual as an AQAL Witness. The second-person Cube shows how the AQAL Witness relates with other AQAL Witnesses; and the third-person Cube locates the AQAL Witness functioning in the arena of manifestation. These three octaves of Witnessing in an individual comprise an integral, evolutionary entity. Our individual progress towards Enlightenment, which is the actualization of our Integral Being and Knowing, is achieved by definition through Integral Life/Consciousness Practice. This would imply that the Enlightenment of any individual at any time in history would have been via Integral Practice (with the rare exception of spontaneous Enlightenment) usually under the guidance of an Enlightenment teacher.

Spontaneous Enlightenment and early-age Enlightenment (spiritual prodigies) cannot be explained by the AQAL Square model, but on the first-person AQAL Cube it becomes immediately clear that the Continuous Consciousness of an incarnating Witness can be mapped as a fact of Life for the reincarnating bodhisattva. If at the end of a life the “saint” is, in perpetuity, well into “Violet” in the Intuitive Quadrants, then the conscious choice of a next life could be through spiritually aware parents who can help fast-track that being’s Empirical Quadrants in the next incarnation. This is the on-going story of the Dalai Lamas. With my own Master, Prem Rawat, even by the age of three years old there is abundant archival footage of him delivering profound discourses about the need, nature and means for Enlightenment. This defies the usual timeframe of Fulcrum development in the Empirical Upper Left Quadrant, but when coupled with advanced development of the AQAL Witness in the first-person Intuitive Quadrants incarnation package, any type of precocious manifestation is immediately relatable.

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